Reflecting on 12 years as Chair

Last weekend saw Ronnie Saez step down as Chair of the British Judo Association after serving twelve years on the Board.

Initially elected as Vice Chair, Ronnie was promoted to Chair in July 2015, a position he has held for the past eight years.

Ronnie a 6th Dan, has been involved in judo for over 40 years and is a huge advocate for Masters judo in the UK. Himself a 6-time medallist at the British National Masters Championships, three of which were British Champion, Ronnie also represented GB Judo at the World Veteran Championships in 2002.

During his time as Chair, Ronnie has overseen great change within the Association both on and off the mat. Under Ronnie’s guidance, GB Judo has won four Olympic and four Paralympic medals, his first as Chair came in 2016 when Sally Conway claimed bronze in the -70kg category at the Rio Olympic Games.

Outside of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Ronnie has seen GB judoka win five World Championship medals and eighteen European Championship medals.

Under Ronnie’s leadership, British Judo staged the UK’s first European Veteran Championships in Glasgow, in 2018, following the success of the Glasgow European Open in the city.

British Judo has gone on to stage multiple global events under Ronnie’s reign, including the IBSA Warwick Grand Prix, which was the final qualification event prior to the Tokyo Paralympic Games, and most recently the Birmingham Junior European Cup.

A proud Scotsman, Ronnie served as Chair of JudoScotland, a role he stepped down from in 2021, after 10 years, in order to take on the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer.

Ronnie currently holds the position of Secretary and Treasurer of the Commonwealth Judo Association, in addition to being Chair of Clyde Judo Club.

In 2022, Ronnie was elected to the role of European Judo Union’s Executive Committee in the role of Education Director following the election of EJU President, Laszlo Toth.

Ronnie Saez (left), Gerry Gualtieri (centre) and Andrew Scoular (right)

Reflecting on his time as Chair, Ronnie said: “I am immensely proud to have led the British Judo Association. As a judoka I was never a world-beater, but what I set out to do in my role was to make the Association a better place for our members.

“I have the upmost confidence that the Association is in safe hands as I hand to role of Chair over to Gerry Gualtieri and I am sure that he will continue the growth within the Association that we have seen in recent years.

“Finally, I would like to say ‘thank you’ to everybody for your continued support during my time as Chair. This is not a goodbye as you will be seeing me at many competitions, just this time I will, like you, be an avid spectator.”

British Judo CEO, Andrew Scoular added: “I would like to congratulate Ronnie on a fantastic twelve years as Chair of the British Judo Association. Ronnie’s support during my time as CEO has been unwavering and I have many fond memories of our time working together for the greater good of judo.

“I am sure the entire judo community will join me in wishing Ronnie all the very best as he steps away from his role as Chair. I know that he will continue to promote the British Judo Association at the highest level as he continues his role as Education Director at the European Judo Union.”

Lisa Allan, IJF General Secretary said: “Thank you Ronnie for all your hard work as Chair of British Judo. It has been a very challenging, but very rewarding role which you have done to the best of your ability.”

“I would like to say that I am grateful for all of your support and our many discussions about our favourite sport. Your love of judo really shows in everything you say and do, and I wish you all the very best as you continue working for the European Judo Union and in all future endeavours.”

Ronnie has been succeeded by Gerry Gualtieri who was officially named chair at the British Judo AGM on Saturday.

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